Engineering Minute

Engineering Minute – Wearable Gas Sensor Monitors Environment and Health

A team of researchers at Penn State University have developed a wearable gas sensor that monitors the wearer's health and environment. The sensor is an improvement on existing technology through the use of a self-heating mechanism, making it highly sensitive and cost efficient. The sensor is slated for commercial sales in the near future.  


“People like to use nanomaterials for sensing because their large surface-to-volume ratio makes them highly sensitive,” says Huanyu Cheng, assistant professor at Penn State University. “The problem is the nanomaterial is not something we can easily hook up to with wires to receive the signal, necessitating the need for something called interdigitated electrodes, which are like the digits on your hand.”


wearable gas sensor
A wearable gas sensor can monitor environmental and medical conditions.
Credit: Penn State University

From the Penn State University article: "Cheng and his team use a laser to pattern a highly porous single line of nanomaterial similar to graphene for sensors that detect gas, biomolecules, and in the future, chemicals. In the non-sensing portion of the device platform, the team creates a series of serpentine lines that they coat with silver. When they apply an electrical current to the silver, the gas sensing region will locally heat up due to significantly larger electrical resistance, eliminating the need for a separate heater. The serpentine lines allow the device to stretch, like springs, to adjust to the flexing of the body for wearable sensors.

The nanomaterials used in this work are reduced graphene oxide and molybdenum disulfide, or a combination of the two; or a metal oxide composite consisting of a core of zinc oxide and a shell of copper oxide, representing the two classes of widely used gas sensor materials — low-dimensional and metal oxide nanomaterials."


Read more about the wearable gas sensor that monitors health and environment at Penn State University

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